Down to Earth: New Administration Backs Off Space Ambitions


President Joe Biden has quickly set about undoing the policies of his predecessor Donald Trump on energy, immigration, economics, and foreign affairs. Will that trend hold for Trump's bold space policy as well? "There seems to be a divide in the Biden team when it comes to space," says Brandon Weichert, space expert and author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower. "Half of them want to sort of continue on with what Trump was doing, but the others want to hem in and restrain all the things Trump was doing...whether it be Space Force, slowing down NASA's moon return program, slowing down private sector activity like Elon Musk's SpaceX."

In particular, the new administration seems to have taken a more adversarial position with Musk and SpaceX. Recently, Musk blasted the FAA after the agency ordered him to cancel the test launch for his latest spacecraft. Weichert notes that Musk has taken political positions against Democrats over the past year, including leaving California over its strict pandemic lockdowns. "You have under the Biden administration a real shift going on, where they're really cracking down on Musk," says Weichert. "And I think it is political."

All of this happens against the backdrop of the new space race, in which China is aiming to overtake the U.S. The Chinese have vast ambitions beyond Earth, including beating the U.S. to Mars by the end of the decade. Weichert believes the new uncertainty over U.S. policy gives China an opportunity. "They realize they have to capitalize on advantages they have right now, to become this tech innovation hub to displace the Americans," he tells KTRH. "Whether it's space mining, rocketry, reusable vehicles, landing on the Moon, colonizing the Moon, getting to Mars...you name the advanced technology, China is laying the infrastructure."


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